Consistency in Website Design

A Real-World Analogy

Analogies between the real world and websites are rarely useful, but in making the case for consistency in website design value can be gained from comparing, as an example, an e-commerce website with a “bricks and mortar” chain of stores. Imagine if each store in a chain had different branding or different color-schemes, furnishings or floor layouts. This would not lend itself to building brand identity or loyalty – and the same can be said about a lack of consistency in your website’s design. For the purposes of this article, the term “website design” refers to the branding and layout of pages of your website.

Branding Consistency

Your website design should emulate your organization’s existing branding guidelines (where applicable), including your logo, color-scheme, the spacing between elements on the page, font styles and size, icon style and size, image styles and form styles. These should be consistent across your website – a lack of branding consistency immediately portrays your organization as being unprofessional. Consistent branding creates a unified feel, which not only tells your visitors that they are still browsing your website, but also re-enforces your brand identity by repeatedly exposing your visitors to it.

Layout Consistency

The layout of your website includes the positioning of your text content, headings, images, navigation menus, search box, newsletter sign-up box and other elements. It is important that some of these elements be the same on every page of your website, but there is some flexibility with regards to other elements.

A study by Forrester Research estimated that around 50% of potential sales are lost because website visitors can’t find the information they want, and a study by Zona Research found that 62% of online shoppers have given up looking for an item they wanted to buy. If your website’s navigation menu is poorly designed to start with, then consistency is not going to help. Your website should be organized in a hierarchical structure that provides feedback to the user as to where they are on your website by highlighting their position on your navigation menu, using “breadcrumbs” and changing hyperlink styles or colors for visited links. You should also make sure that your anchor text on links are descriptive so that visitors know exactly what to expect when they click on a link.

If your website’s navigation already allows your visitors to quickly find the information they want then you should maintain this ease-of-use throughout your website. Since every website is different, website visitors have to familiarize themselves with the layout and navigation structure of your website in order to use it – and consistency in your website’s navigation structure means that they will have to do this only once. If your website’s navigation menu varies throughout your website, your visitors will take longer to find what they want and will inevitably lose interest and go elsewhere.

Other elements of your website’s layout that should be consistent throughout your website include your search box and newsletter sign-up box. There is, however, room to be a little more flexible in the layout of the rest of your web pages. For example, it stands to reason that your product pages will have a different layout to your article or “About Us” pages, but be sure to be consistent with the branding of these different layouts.

Optimize Multilingual Website and Target Global Audiences

English is considered a universal language and people from all over the world understand it. But what business owners don’t realize is that buyers or customers usually appreciate a website that offers content in their own language. Research has stated that people are more likely to purchase from a site that speaks their own language. They are also found to stay longer on a site that offers content in their native language. Even the search engines prefer multilingual websites if you are planning to target global audience.

Structure URLs for global audience: Search engines and users often prefer the URL structure of the pages they visit and take decisions and judgements about the relevancy of the site. URLs play a vital role in user experience and can give the user more information. For search engines, URL is the unique identifier that is used to catalog the page and it is also considered as one of the most important elements of international SEO.

Domain names: Once you have decided on your target countries, it is important to do some research on the legal requirements for the website. These requirements specify your eligibility to use country specific domain names. Multilingual website development should always consider the factors as Google differentiates between the types of domain names.

  • gTLDs: These domain names are not specific to any country and your multilingual development agency can consider gTLDs like .eu or .asia because they are specific to a certain region and not a particular country. These types of domain names are easy to set up and allow different server locations. Geo targeting can be easily done by using Webmaster tools.
  • ccTLDs: These domains are more country specific for example .au stands for Australia, .de for Germany and etc. Choosing such domains show that your website is targeted for a specific country. Easy separation of sites and clear geo-targeting is easy irrespective of the server location. However this is often more expensive and needs a greater infrastructure.

Avoid duplicate content: Websites that offer content for different regions and languages usually create content that is same or similar and is available on different URLs. For greater visibility of your multilingual website, it is recommended that you provide unique content for each set of users. But this may be at times difficult and there is no need to hide the duplicate content by disallowing crawling by robots. Instead, you should pick up a preferred version and redirect appropriately.

Improving Website Performance

Beauty and Design

First impressions are visual in nature. Customers may like or dislike something in seconds – just by how it looks. It applies especially to websites.. It all begins with beauty, design and clarity. A beautifully designed website can be a monetarily effective mechanism to enhance traffic to a website and increase lead generation. In contrast, a badly designed website encourages the user leave the page even before it loads completely. This can result in lost business potential.

Design Compatibility

With enhanced penetration of mobile technology, more and more users are accessing website over their smart phones and tablets. A website’s performance is no longer limited to desktop.

How responsive and compatible a design is over slew of physical devices defines a website’s design ability. If a business lacks to provide a mobile friendly website to its customers, it is falling behind its competitors. To stay current with the times, most of the well established businesses have beautifully crafted, clear and responsive mobile friendly websites designs.

Analysis of User Behavior

Paying attention to site’s performance through regular supervision and revision is advised. For enhanced user engagement it is essential to use Google Analytics on a regular basis to analyze user behavior.

This involves studying customer’s navigation pattern and actions on various site pages. Working over visitor data gives insight into what users like about the site. Heat maps of the website can be generated through various tools which provide data on clicks.

What do they do and which pages are left unattended? Do the blog and content pages have acceptable readability? Are the goals of setting a website are in line with a visitor’s goal? Such questions aid in improvement and visitor re-engagement.

Crisp Communication

Users visiting a website have various levels of attention. To cater to different level of interest it is important to communicate in a manner which is catches and holds users interest. Using appropriate font, comprehensible content and mix and match of graphics, images and text makes the communication more effective.

Instead of hovering around the subject, to the point messages should be communicated quickly and creatively. Instead of using superfluous language filled with self-praise, content should have genuine solutions to questions a visitor might have.

For example a restaurant’s website should offer, very clearly, what a visitor might seek on its website. Menu list, feasible hours, location, weekly and daily specials, promotional coupons, online ordering and catering links should be displayed as the very first view option. It should clearly display its mobile App (if available) for download to enable the users to order conveniently.

Content is the King

A website with the same old look and feel creates monotony and reduces return frequency. People don’t want to look at the same content over and over again. Freshness of content is what any visitor craves.This requires updating the home page and other landing pages with up-to date content.

For example, any website designing and software development business has little scope for regular variability in design. These companies makes it a point to update the content through fresh and current blogs, articles and industry knowledge. Their products and services landing page regularly add more information about the recent development in company’s engineering and development process. Graphics and images are updated on home page as well as the layered landing pages to add freshness to the website. Big or small, changes are added to the website for capturing user interest.

Multiple social plug-ins enable sharing of content by site visitors which not only optimizes the website across search engines but also acts marketing messengers for the company.

CMS For Developing E-Commerce Websites

Zend Framework

Zend Framework is a perfect collection of vital components required for speeding up the web application development process. There are many organizations out there which depend greatly on Zend framework to build robust, modern and secure web applications.

Zend PHP Framework is extremely flexible with key features such as scalability and scalability. This framework can be easily customized and requires low maintenance.

It supports faster development of web applications and offers higher level of functional quality. In fact, the PHP developers can complete larger projects within a short time using this framework.

It is compatible with diverse databases such as MySQL, Oracle, SQL and many more. They are known to enhance the productivity immensely featuring several third party plug ins.

Zend PHP Framework is object oriented and includes fluent interfaces with rich library for extensive usage in applications.

CakePHP

With CakePHP framework, you can give an extensive life to your web application project. This framework is an open source development that utilizes bug free, flexible and well structured coding to develop websites for small, medium and large businesses within a short time.

CakePHP Framework is a modern technique used for developing a website at a reasonable cost. It also makes use of less coding for constructing a website in contrary to other PHP frameworks.

It uses MVC or model view controller to define and isolate business layer seamlessly based on the business size and type.

Bake Console, an important feature of Cake PHP, creates basic elements such as behaviors, test cases, components, plugins, models, controllers, views and fixtures for creating reusable codes.

As most of the configurations are in-built in the CakePHP framework, you need not have to waste your time for further configuration.

Build A Competitive Website

Have you not seen plain-looking sites including big search engines that are very successful? There are clearly other web design areas that need to be addressed by the website designer. Usability is one of these areas. It is all about helping your visitors access the information they need to take the action you want. In order to ensure usability you should know the purpose you have for the site. Do you want to provide products, services or information through your web portal?

This is the question you want to answer prior to creating a usable website. Besides usability you must focus on creating an informative site. Whether you want to sell something or just educate people, content is king. Web visitors look to read about a service or a product prior to making a decision to buy it. A few sentences on the main page are not adequate. Your web design expert should take the time to write and publish a page that gives a detailed listing of features of each service or product you have.

Visitors do not only want an informative page. They also want it to be easily accessible. Pages that inform the customers about the things you sell must be the easiest to find. One trick that always works is putting crucial information right under their noses. If you do not overcrowd your main page, then a link to a page that offers extra details should work just fine. A site that is easy to navigate is extremely important. Good web designers are aware of the importance of creating a good navigational system.

Because you will not always get a web user who is experienced with internet usage, have the navigation bar set across all pages. By so doing you will remove confusion in the user’s mind and encourage them to obey your call to action. Visitors will also appreciate short cuts to different spots. Instead of forcing them to get back to the home page to visit another page on your site, place direct URL links on all places you consider logical.

Another thing I should mention concerning navigation menus is about avoiding issues that would make your navigation system difficult to use. For instance, it is a good idea to avoid making your navigation bar dependent on given browsers only. For visitors who probably do not have JavaScript, try to offer an alternative way for them to access your site. Finally if you want to run a site that has many pages, you may provide an internal site search engine tool. It will assist people find what they want with ease.

Professional Website Cost

The service provider that does the scripting is called a web programmer. Do not confuse this with a web designer because there is a difference. The web programmer creates the actions that occur on a website, like when someone creates an account or sends a payment. These actions are all scripted by a web programmer, which is quite an extensive job. The website design rates, on the other hand, won’t be as expensive. Web designers are simply the ones who develop the graphics and layout of the website. Basically, they design the visual appearance that everyone sees when they visit the website. For a professional web designer, you are looking at about a thousand dollars for a well made web design. So when you add the costs of the web designer and web programmer together, you are looking at a minimum of $5000 to start. Again, this is only if you are creating a simple website that requires minimal programming. Anything bigger will cost more.

The other hurdle you will come across is the hosting fees. Since we are talking about a professional website that will likely be used for business purposes, you certainly don’t want to host the website with a shared hosting plan for $8 per month. Even though many shared hosting plans offer unlimited bandwidth and hosting, they still limit the amount of script processes you can have. So if you have a heavily scripted site with a lot of traffic, your shared hosting account will get banned within days. Instead, you need to purchase a dedicated hosting plan at a minimum of $200 per month. These are servers that are not shared and are totally dedicated to your website. So it can handle as many script processes as you want. The only downside is that it has a bandwidth and web space limit. Therefore, you will have to purchase an upgrade for the dedicated server to expand those storage limits as your site gains more popularity.

Commandments of Church Website Development

Thou Shalt Make Use Of Social Media For Fellowship

If your church website has no social media links, then it’s missing out on one of the most significant ways to connect with the community and to get them involved in spiritual and charitable activities.

Thou Shalt Have Email Features

How do followers get in touch with you? With up-to-date contact information, they know where your church is situated, but why not make it easier for them? Providing a valid email address does just that.

Thou Shalt Develop Compelling Content

Content is undoubtedly king. This is your chance to directly address and inspire individuals into becoming your followers. Focus on a genuine tone that connects with the audience.

Thou Shalt Take Into Account Mobility

In the era of smartphones and tablets, is your website’s layout compatible with different platforms? Chances are, people are visiting your site via a mobile device. Take this into account when speaking with your church website developer.

Thy Website Shalt Be Current

In order to ensure it is engaging and relevant, you must constantly update the content to ensure your church followers never miss out on anything.

Improve And Create Sales Leads

Designing an attractive website

The website designed and developed for a company must have information about the company and the products or services provided by the company. The website should also be easier to navigate for the website visitors. It is good to get customer information by placing a form which should consist of queries regarding their needs.

Email auto-responder

Customers will be provided with an optional option which will ask for your email address if you are interested in receiving auto-responder emails from the company in the future regarding the latest launch of their products or any discounts for their products. Companies can attract customers for auto-responder emails by providing them with a free product or product discounts.

Include tell-a-friend script

By including a code that would allow the site visitors to even add their friends for the auto-responder emails, those friends will also receive email about your website which can help improve the sales leads of the products offered by your company.

Using social networking websites for promoting business

Website owners can create their own pages in the social networking websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn as a means to promote business. When a customer became a friend or fan on your company page in the particular social networking website, all of the users within their network will learn about your business page and the products or services it provides.

Using news sites for promoting business

Publish a press release on some well know news sites. Express the unique points that make your company different from others and the content for Press Release must be simpler too. Choose the news sites that allow you to place a link that directs the site visitors towards your website page.

Offline Generation

  • Participate in trade shows that are relevant to your industry. It is also an opportunity to provide visitors in the show with a hands-on experience regarding the products or services offered by your business.
  • Placing advertisements of your company within local newspapers or radio stations is another common way of generating sales leads. The ads can help readers to give a call to one of your sales representatives or can help them visit your website.
  • Direct mails are still one of the most preferred methods of enhancing the sales leads. Take in to consideration the demographics and the income level of the people before sending mails to them. The emails must be sent for the right kind of audiences and thereby increasing the chances of generating sales leads.

 

About Emotion in Design

Foundation of good design

A couple of things form the foundation of any good design, whether the design is emotional or not. Why are we talking about the foundation of a design here? Think of the construction of a house. First, you need a solid foundation; then, you can start to plan the division of space and build walls. In Web design it’s the same; you need to know your internal design goals, who your users are and in what context they will use your website. Once this groundwork is done, you can get started on the design.

Internal design goals

Before you get started on anything, ask yourself what your own goals are. This does not mean you should put yourself at the center of attention for the rest of the process, but it is important to know what image you want to communicate, what your values and visions are, and how you want others to see you. With this knowledge at hand, you are armed to be very clear and consistent not only in your actions, but also in your appearance. A certain amount of continuity and predictability adds to your reliability, which is important for getting people to commit to a relationship with you.

Prospective users

Know who you are designing for. Your future users will be the people who purchase and use your product or website, so make sure you know what they want. General demographics will give you a rough picture of who you are targeting. By drawing a clear picture of their goals, how they are going to use your website, and what matters and doesn’t matter to them, you will learn how to target your users. Without knowing your prospective users, designing something relevant that is both usable and pleasurable will be quite tricky.

Context of use

Finally, think about the context of use. Knowing the situations and circumstances in which users will be visiting your website is valuable. Consider possible emotions that might be involved, and find out which role you and your users play. Be aware that knowing the context of use will make it easier for you to understand your users the moment they visit your website. It will help you reach out to your customers and to communicate with them more effectively.

How to invoke emotion?

There are a number of different avenues taken to implement successful emotion in design. We can target emotion in the company – identify the emotional qualities of the business and its products or service. At what level does the business stand out from competition? Does the company have a heartfelt story? Who runs the company, and do they have a story? We can target emotion in the market – how do you connect with your customers and satisfy their needs? Market positive emotions. This may be done by inciting mystery, curiosity, hope or anticipation. Play on their heartstrings with negative emotions such as fear, frustration or need. We target emotion in ourselves as the designers – put your personal touch into design, your attitude, experience and emotion. Who are you designing for? How do you connect with them? How can you make that important click? Namely, identify the qualities associated with yourself and your client, their uniqueness and make them appear inimitable.

Relationships: sex, family and life matters

Designing a concept, product or service can be paralleled to building a human relationship; a friendship, a marriage or a family bond. Building rapport with your consumer base is the most important take-home message for any designer. Building trust, dependence and confidence in a relationship are the keys to making it prosperous. Emotionally manipulating consumers is a quick fix strategy often employed by start-ups, but a technique that will only give short-term success if you cannot keep up rapport. Design must be genuine, or else the consumer will move onto a successive superficial fix or look beyond you to find something long-term and guaranteed.

Building relationships with empathy, sympathy and sentimentality – grasping emotion

So, from our analogy between building relationships and designs we can see how important it is to be honest, welcoming and determined to pull through with the service you provide. Emotion in design is not intangible but you must think beyond simple feelings and grasp deeper and meaningful thought. You may start with simpler emotion such as fear, love, anger or pride but always strive to dig deeper to emotion such as empathy, sentimentality, tenderness, protectiveness or sympathy. The more you delve, the more distinctive and specified you become, the more efficacious, overwhelmed and heartfelt your transmission will be.

Convey your message with deep emotion and connect with integrity. Although you must show empathy to your client you must also be able to critique, be a cynic and be honest. Be moved by the concepts you are building, explore the mindset of your client, be as thrilled with the product or service as your client is, share their excitement.